b. October 30, 1963
“I believe that words are strong, that they can overwhelm what we fear.”
Andrew Solomon is an award-winning author and a commentator on politics, culture, and psychology. He is a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and an activist for LGBTQ rights and mental health.
Solomon was born and raised in Manhattan. He studied English at Yale University and received his master’s degree in the subject from Cambridge University, where he later earned a doctorate in psychology.
In 1991 Solomon published his first book, “The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost,” a work of nonfiction based on his study of Russian vanguards. He published his first novel, “A Stone Boat,” about a gay man’s relationship with his terminally ill mother, in 1994.
A contributing writer for a variety of publications, including New York Times Magazine, Solomon published a personal account of his experiences with depression in 1998. The piece garnered widespread attention. In 2001 he shot to literary fame with “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” which won him the National Book Award and a finalist’s position for a Pulitzer Prize. A combination of personal memoir and cultural and scientific commentary on depression, the book earned praise as a transformative masterpiece. It was translated into more than 20 languages. For his role in destigmatizing mental illness, Solomon was honored by numerous mental health advocacy organizations.
Solomon’s best-selling nonfiction work, “Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” was published in 2001. Discussing the ways that families raise children with physical, mental, and social disabilities or differences, the book was praised for its sensitive perspective on disability issues. It garnered over 30 national awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named one of the 10 best books of 2012 by The New York Times. It was also honored with research advocacy awards from the Departments of Psychiatry at Yale and Columbia Universities, among others.
An LGBTQ rights, mental health, and arts activist, Solomon serves as a Special Advisor on LGBT Mental Health to the Yale School of Psychiatry and as a member of the board of directors of the National LGBTQ Task Force, the University of Michigan Depression Center, and Columbia Psychiatry. A former president of PEN America, he also serves on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. His TEDX talks on mental health have been viewed more than 20 million times.
Solomon lives in New York and London with his husband and son. He has a daughter with a college friend.